Merrill Lynch uses SOA to overhaul operations

Merrill Lynch is transforming its operational infrastructure in support of wholesale business change using a service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy.

Merrill Lynch is transforming its operational infrastructure in support of wholesale business change using a service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy.

The company’s head of global infrastructure solutions, Diane Schueneman, said rapid change in an increasingly complex industry, driven by higher customer expectations, regulation and competition, had forced the company to re-evaluate the IT organisation supporting company operations.

“A couple of years ago we opened accounts for customers and used those accounts as wrappers sold by our financial advisors to very broad customer segments. The focus was on product,” she said.
With an IT budget of £904m, Schueneman set out the scale of change needed to break down departmental and product silos in order to move the business to a more customer-centric, as opposed to product-centric, operational model to improve business efficiency and compliance.

“We process nine million transactions daily, technical support takes 17.4 million calls a year and the company produces 12 million e-mails a day, which I have to be able to recall within 30 days according to the regulators,” she said.

By moving to a global sourcing model, Merrill Lynch is moving 60% of its 15,000-plus IT and operational staff move into two lower cost, centralised operational hubs.

At the same time, the IT refresh involved in migrating to these two new operational centres is being coordinated with the use of Tibco SOA technologies to help rationalise and integrate core processing activities so they are more consistent across the business, as well as scalable and lower in cost to maintain.

By taking the process centric view of its IT operations using business process management (BPM) and SOA products from Tibco, Schueneman explained, “The key is consistency of process, to provide ‘solutions’ to customers that meet their ongoing needs, as opposed to products.”

This now includes more self-service, greater personalisation and more electronic transaction processing.

“SOA and BPM are absolutely critical to our business now,” she said. They enable the re-use of existing IT investments, re-organised into services.

“In making the move to client-centric operations, IT has to be integrated as services and Tibco is helping us achieve that.”

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Computer Weekly's managing technology editor Cliff Saran writes on the highs and lows of the IT industry, looking at the technology trends that matter to corporate IT, and those that don't.

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